U of M recognizes Austin’s Main Street ProjectPublished 8:24am Friday, December 7, 2012
Austin’s Main Street Project was recently recognized by the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
The Main Street Project board earned a Local Government Innovation Award from the school for assisting with 38 downtown Austin storefront renovations through 2012.
The project, started in 2005, provides forgivable loans and easements for Main Street business owners that plan to stay in the downtown area for more than five years. Though owners are responsible for maintaining the improved storefronts and cannot change their business’s exterior without Austin Port Authority approval, the initiative has helped update and renovate buildings, some of them decades old.
“We wanted to improve the downtown area,” said City Administrator Jim Hurm.
Aside from 38 storefront renovations, the project has created or renovated eight housing units. Thus far, the project has cost more than $5.7 million, with about $3.4 million coming from private investment, more than $1 million coming from grants through foundations like The Hormel Foundation, and $1.2 million in local tax dollars through the city of Austin, the Housing and Redevelopment Authority, and Port Authority funds.
The Hormel Foundation last week approved another $100,000 in funding to the Main Street Project for 2013.